Studio International

Published 14/08/2002

At a time when most organisations are throwing in the sponge and moving out to the periphery of their home city, the BBC has unveiled dramatic new plans by Sir Richard MacCormac of MacCormac Jameson and Pritchard to concentrate key production and executive activities together at Broadcasting House. This will enable the tacky White City complex to be rationalised. Bush House’s activities will be incorporated in the new grouping. MacCormac has designed a subtle but dramatic updating, reconciling this with the fine church by John Nash on the corner, St Paul’s Langham Place, and enhancing the original 1932 Broadcasting House. This building is not always recognised as incorporating spaces designed by Wells Coates, Serge Chermayeff, and the respected but forgotten Edward Mauffe. Notwithstanding all this, Broadcasting House currently rates only Grade II as a listed building. It seems likely that when MacCormac’s rehabilitation is completed, the whole group will be raised to Grade I. MacCormac, architect recently of the new Wellcome Wing at the Science Museum as well as the masterly Ruskin Museum at the University of Lancaster, has been lucky to secure the job. A previous BBC initiative embraced Lord Foster in replacing the overblown Langham Hotel, opposite. Although this was one of Foster’s best schemes of the period, but was gently abandoned by ‘Auntie’. Now her environment will be dramatically brought up into the 21st century.
At the same time the BBC has already commissioned David Chipperfield to develop a core for BBC Scotland in Glasgow, at Pacific Quay. Chipperfield too has landed on his feet, having worked for Foster on the earlier Langham Place project.